Beginner’s guide: Which iPad Should You Buy in 2020

A screenshot of all the iPads available on Apple’s website

With the release of the new iPad Pro, it’s a bit confusing to try and figure out which iPad best suits your needs. Needs being the keyword. There are four possible iPads to choose from (iPad Pro 2020, iPad Air 3, iPad 7 and the iPad mini 5). 

The iPad For Your Digital Productivity 

1. All these iPads support the Apple Pencil. The writing experience on all of them is the same! At least, in real life everyday situations, you won’t feel a difference, especially if you have nothing to compare with. 

YouTube has videos comparing the Apple Pencil lag on different iPads in slow motion. No one writes in slow motion! A millisecond lag is not going to ruin your writing experience on any of these devices. Apple does a great job creating devices that work. All these iPads are great with handwriting because they are iPads. 

2. They all run the same iPadOS. iPadOS is similar for all of them. None of them stands out above others. If there are any differences, they are negligible and certainly not worth the price differences in these devices. If the iPad Pro 2020 can do it, so can the iPad air 3, iPad 7 and the iPad mini 5.  There are currently no Pro-apps available for specifically the iPad Pros only. 

I successfully edited videos and photos on the iPad 2018. 2 years ago! None of these iPads can be overlooked as non-pro. At least for as long as there are no pro-apps on the market. 

Who Needs An iPad Pro? 

I’d say, architects, artists (for drawing), engineers—anyone dealing with big canvases. If your work is better done on a big screen, then you need the iPad pro 12.9 inches. I also recommend it for anyone taking notes without a secondary device (e.g, a laptop or second iPad). The bigger the screen you get the better. Split view is more useful on a big screen. You can also consider getting the 11-inch iPad Pro if you want a small screen with a huge memory (above 256 GB).

Some have argued that the iPad Pro is better because it uses the USB-C port instead of the lightning connector. I am always quick to dismiss this because, whatever port you have on your iPad (USB-C or Lightning connector), you will still need to buy hubs (adapters) for the iPad. For now, there really is not much of a difference. Apple is still releasing iPads and iPhones with the lighting connector. The market has excellent hubs for both the lighting connector and USB-C. I’d say as of 2020, the lightning connector is as future proof as the USB-C. Apple hasn’t phased it out yet.

LiDAR is another great selling point for the new iPad pro. It makes no sense buying it now when there aren’t any specific apps using this technology yet. It’s new and awesome but useless! If anything, all it has is POTENTIAL. 

Apple is getting into a habit of selling us devices on vague promises.

They promised the iPad Pro 2018 could run pro desktop apps (when they released it back in 2018). We only received the first of those “pro” apps, Adobe photoshop, a year after the iPad Pro 2018’s release. That’s a few months before they released iPad pro 2020. Think about that for a second. 

Apple made us feel like Adobe Photoshop would only run on the iPad Pro 2018 because it was as powerful as laptops. When it finally got released, decades later, the app is compatible with iPad Pros as far back as the 9.7 inch iPad pro (which has 2GB RAM). Chances are, by the time apps start using this new LiDAR tech, Apple will have it on all iPads (including the low budget ones too). Adobe photoshop is compatible with iPadOS and all the latest iPads. 

Supported devices for Adobe Photoshop on iPad:

  • iPad Pro (Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi and Cellular)
  • iPad Pro (12.9-inch) 1st and 2nd generation
  • iPad Pro (10.5-inch)
  • Pad Pro (9.7-inch)
  • iPad 5th Generation
  • iPad Mini 4
  • iPad Air 2
  • Apple Pencil (2nd generation)
  • Apple Pencil (1st generation)

The big screen is the only reason to get an iPad pro in 2020. The 11-inch iPad Pro is not worth buying.

Which iPad Am I Using? 

Since the beginning of this year (2020) I am using the iPad Pro 2015 (128GB). I downgraded from the iPad Pro 2018 (1TB). Honestly, I don’t miss it. 

I am still rocking my old iPad Pro to see how durable it is. Of course, at any sign of deterioration from my baby, I will replace her in a heartbeat. The iPad Pro 2015 has specs similar to the iPad 7 and iPad air 3. I could say these two are upgraded versions of the iPad Pro 2015. They are powerful iPads! Powerful enough to handle any work you throw at them.

Who Needs The iPad 7?

Apple just released an iPad with a minimum storage of 128GB. Getting this memory on new devices is now a bad idea. Since the iPad 7 has a maximum storage of 128GB, I am hesitant to recommend it for any serious work or note-taking

Its price, though, makes it the perfect iPad for children in Primary and High School. They can study on it and easily do their assignments. If need be, they can upgrade to something better for university. 

The iPad 7 is also good for anyone who doesn’t do much on their iPads. It’s great for reading and replying your emails, digital planning and taking basic notes.

The Best iPad To Buy In 2020

iPad Air 3 gives you the best value for your money. As of 2020, 256GB is the minimum storage you should be getting for your iPad. This will allow you to grow and it will make your iPad future proof. 

Many people are asking me if they should get 64GB iPads to use it for note-taking only. You might buy your iPad today, with note-taking in mind, but maybe next year you might discover a new hobby. 64GB will not be enough anymore. Then you’ll start crying, regretting you bought it. 

It’s better to get a 256GB iPad Air 3 than to get a 128GB iPad Pro 2020. Storage on your iPad is everything, especially because it’s not expandable. 

Power on iPads is not just for the pros anymore. So why waste your money?
Couldn’t help but notice how Apple is advertising the iPad air. Even Apple agrees with me, Power is really not just for the iPad pros only.

Who Needs The iPad Mini 5?

The last iPad on the list is the iPad mini 5. The most expensive notepad in the world. I can’t see it as a stand-alone device. You will definitely need a bigger iPad or laptop to go with it. 

If you prefer working on a laptop but need a desk paperless notepad, the iPad mini 5 is perfect for you. Since iPhones don’t support the Apple Pencil, the iPad mini 5 is a great alternative for handwriting your thoughts. Be warned: it’s not that small. At least, for my tiny hands, it’s not very portable. 

What About The Apple Pencils: Which Is Better? 

The iPad you choose determines which Apple Pencil you get. 

Apple Pencil 1st generation Apple Pencil 2nd generation
iPad Air (3rd generation)
iPad mini (5th generation)
iPad (6th and 7th generation)
iPad Pro 12.9-inch (1st and 2nd generation)
iPad Pro 10.5-inch iPad Pro 9.7-inch
iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd and 4th generation) iPad Pro 11-inch (1st and 2nd generation)
iPad compatibility with the Apple Pencil

The Apple Pencil should not be a determining factor when choosing an iPad. Both pencils work and as far as note-taking is concerned, that is really all that matters.

Any thoughts? Do tell, do tell!